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Will Dell Be Bad For Ubuntu? 372

vcore writes "Many people are excited for Ubuntu's upcoming release on Dell computers, and while it is certainly good news there are a few causes for concern. Very few details have emerged so far so it is not completely clear what impact Dell with have on the thriving Ubuntu community. But there are questions concerning support, logistics, pricing, and a number of other areas that are affected. From the article: 'Dell is in the practice of filling their computers with large amounts of "bloatware" and also all sorts of co-branding, but it remains to be seen what they will do with Ubuntu. It has been reported that Dell will be shipping a standard version of Ubuntu 7.04...'"
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Will Dell Be Bad For Ubuntu?

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  • AOL? (Score:5, Funny)

    by allan_q ( 561224 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:11PM (#19133815)
    Will Dell Be Bad For Ubuntu?

    Like AOL was bad for the Internet?... Oh wait!

  • I switched at home (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) * on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:14PM (#19133883)
    several weeks ago when rebuilding an HP machine with XP just got too frustrating and time-consuming. Threw in an Edgy install disk and it worked perfectly. Upgraded to Feisty with no drama. I've been using it exclusively for over a month.

    How can Dell be bad for Ubuntu? Yes, I RTFA and I think most of the potential problems are non-issues. The update mechanisms can scale; Dell can help if need be. I can buy support from Canonical or Dell can outsource it to them if Dell can't handle it.

    I don't really see the downside. I'd love to see a few completely clueless oldsters accidentally get one of these Ubuntu Dell machines for their first and only computer. Then we'd have converts who simply didn't know any other way.

    Even a clueless newbie can figure out Feisty. Now, I think there's another Slashdot post I want to read.
    • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:19PM (#19133965) Homepage Journal
      I don't really see the downside.

      Notice the increase of legal threats from Microsoft towards Linux distributors lately? They want this STOPPED.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheDarkener ( 198348 )
        Notice the increase of legal threats from Microsoft towards Linux distributors lately? They want this STOPPED.

        So LET 'em piss their pants in fright. This is exciting!! The more energy we have behind this movement, the more we will be able to defeat the Goliath!

        GO UBUNTU!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by zCyl ( 14362 )

        Notice the increase of legal threats from Microsoft towards Linux distributors lately? They want this STOPPED.

        Don't you remember last week? []

        If they extend immunity to Dell, they can't make legal threats to Dell. It seems to me like Microsoft is a two-headed monster lately which can't agree with itself on how to attack.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dionysus ( 12737 )

      I don't really see the downside. I'd love to see a few completely clueless oldsters accidentally get one of these Ubuntu Dell machines for their first and only computer. Then we'd have converts who simply didn't know any other way.

      I've installed Kubuntu on friend's computers without problems (I didn't force it on them. I just installed it, because a) their windows installation went to hell, b) their windows cd was damaged, and c) I didn't have a windows cd to install). That is, they haven't had problems using the system. Most home users just use webmail, surf the web, and use their ipod. Maybe write essays etc if they are still in school. Linux can do these tasks easily.

      The problem with Linux is not using the system. Linux, wi

      • The problem is installation

        i dunno, ubuntu's installer is pretty friendly. it skated through the Aunt Tillie test for me.

        it's certainly better than the dos holdover that is the XP installer, though the vista installer looks to be pretty nice, though i haven't personally used that yet.
        • by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) * on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @03:01PM (#19134733)
          The Vista installer is just fine, apart from the fact that it installs Vista.

          Compared with XP it is 'prettier', asks fewer questions, and can slipsteam updates on its own. I never did try it on blank disk (not formatted with any file system). The XP installer not being able to continue without one was always annoying.
          • The Vista installer is just fine, apart from the fact that it installs Vista.

            This is honestly the funniest thing I've ever read on slashdot. Wish I had mod points...
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Ok, about the Dell computers shipped with bloatware, etc.
            How will that affect Ubuntu. Probably not too much, unless the bloatware software writers want to starting writing lots of non-windows software all of a sudden.
            I did get ahold of a Dell Inspiron 1505 with XP, and it was so loaded up with bloatware that the owner asked my to format the XP partition, and "start over". Used my Knoppix Remaster [] to look around in the drive, and see what partitions Dell had. Seems there were several, one for the Media Direc
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I just installed Kubuntu on my mom's new computer. She's 78. She simply gave me a list of the things she wanted to do with her computer (web & email, mostly). The only thing beyond the stock CD I installed was Firefox with Adblock Plus. So far, she likes it.
    • by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:34PM (#19134211) Homepage
      Have you *tried making Ubuntu's windows turn sideways 45 degrees so that they kinda look cool and overlap a bit? It takes *hours!
    • I don't really see the downside.

      Bloatware and spyware on a Linux system is something I had hoped I'd never get to see. The same goes for anti-spyware. If Dell includes them it will trigger a dirty vicious cycle.

      I'd love to see a few completely clueless oldsters accidentally get one of these Ubuntu Dell machines for their first and only computer. Then we'd have converts who simply didn't know any other way.

      Some of them may be curious enough to give it 5 minutes, but I doubt it. They'll just get whatever OS t
      • Bloatware and spyware on a Linux system is something I had hoped I'd never get to see. The same goes for anti-spyware. If Dell includes them it will trigger a dirty vicious cycle.

        Never fear. If Dell ships Ubuntu with crap, then the community will quickly come up with a linux version of the PC Decrapifier" [] that people use to remove the bloatware from windows-based Dell PCs.

        Of course, I'd rather see Dell not ship the crap to begin with. But if the crap lets Dell sell me the box for 10% less, I'll take it wi

    • I also RTFA, and you're 100% right... the article fails point out a single serious or even realistic downside to the Dell/Ubuntu offering. I think the posting above had the only reasonable concern - that Dell/Ubuntu might wake the sleeping giant (M$).

      A clueless newbie would do just fine on Feisty. However, being a newbie nowadays means usually one of three things: you're a kid, or you're quite old, or very poor. I might recommend Ubuntu for old people, and possibly poor people (tons of free software out-
    • by ditoa ( 952847 )
      I wish my experience was as good as yours. I have tried both 6.10 and 7.04 on my Dell Dimension 9100 but for some reason it refuses to work with my Nvidia 6800 graphics card. I was able to get it working by installing the nvidia binary driver however it is disappointing that it didn't work out of the box like it does for everyone else :(
  • hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:15PM (#19133895) Journal
    it probably wouldnt hurt ubuntu to put it on the dell pcs- look what it did for windows
    • it probably wouldnt hurt ubuntu to put it on the dell pcs- look what it did for windows

      Dell is a by-product of Windows' glory days. As Windows starts to wane, Dell is doing the sensible thing: diversifies its offer. It's something that most IT businesses have done ages ago. You cannot ignore Linux anymore, and you cannot ignore the fact Windows is a crappy product, sold through shoddy business practices, on a market that just got wiser. You just can't base your business on Windows anymore, not if you expect
  • Answer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tuoqui ( 1091447 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:17PM (#19133927) Journal
    No, it wont be bad for Ubuntu. It may be bad for any Linux Guru's around making them go prematurely bald by having them rip their hair out when some Dell customer asks them 'Wheres Internet Explorer?' or 'Does this thing have google?' or in the case of semi-knowledgeable find that they've activated the root account and are running everything from there instead of using 'sudo' (yes you can cringe now)
    • It takes a console command to enable root in Ubuntu (precisley, sudo passwd root). Hopefully the Dellusers won't be doing too much mucking around in the console. They have a better shot of accidentally pulling a sudo rm -rf / than turning root on (and it's probably better that way)
  • by Ravnen ( 823845 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:17PM (#19133935)
    I don't think it'll be bad for Ubuntu overall. Almost all PC vendors, not just Dell, put bloatware on their PCs, and that's one of the reasons they like Windows, i.e. the bloatware they want to distribute runs on it. That's why I always reinstall Windows after buying a new PC, and then install only the software I actually want.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jojisan ( 465449 )
      I think it will be interesting to see what bloatware they actually install.
      It might actually help get some more mainstream programs into linux.
      a dell photo album tool on several thousand ubuntu installs could force Adobe into releasing its photo album software for linux. This inturn could lead to finally having professional adobe tools on linux. :) dare to dream!!
      Not to mention having more linux / firefox users would spur more development on flash tools for linux.
      Dells DVD Tools could force Nero or PowerDV
  • by Anonymous Coward
    they are giving such great support for windows already

    i cannot even install the generic ati driver for my card, although it would work without any problems - have to use those hacked omega drivers instead for it in windows, so actually this article is a bit of nonsense

    what support does dell need to give for ubuntu?
    answer: nothing, thats why we have those ubuntu forums

    just install it on the machines and take care that graphics drivers, sound drivers etc are installed and activated and voila, ready to go

    and l
  • No, but .. (Score:3, Funny)

    by rs232 ( 849320 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:20PM (#19133971)
    Will Dell Be Bad For Ubuntu?

    As long as Mark Shuttleworth doesn't go and do anything foolish like signing cross-licensing patent deals then a big No, but I can guarantee the MS/Novell/Dell deal will be bad for at least two of those organizations. I leave it to you to figure out who exactly :)

  • Misleading Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asphaltjesus ( 978804 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:25PM (#19134077)
    The summary is pitiful. This is not a good/bad question.

    Yes, Dell will have to make a huge infrastructure investment just to sell Ubuntu-equipped equipment. Someone PHB with authority at Dell will have to force the various departments to get this stuff done. Typical to a large company, it will probably be done poorly because change is rarely welcomed. It shouldn't surprise anyone that a linux-equipped Dell will probably be more expensive than windows.

    There are two much bigger questions:
    1. How will Dell structure Ubuntu sales? PHB's will, at some point, review Ubuntu sales and decide if it generates enough ROI to continue. How that ROI will be defined will heavily influence whether or not they stick with it. This is where politics meets the accounting department and decides the fate of this effort before a single unit is sold.

    2. How will Microsoft respond? I'm thinking this is really more of a stick to beat Microsoft with more than anything else.

    I don't really want Dell selling Ubuntu-equipped PC's. It will be bad for distro diversity.
    • by jomas1 ( 696853 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:34PM (#19134207) Homepage

      I don't really want Dell selling Ubuntu-equipped PC's. It will be bad for distro diversity.
      How will it be bad for distro diversity? People who don't know how or don't want to learn how to install linux won't buy a machine that makes them install their own OS. People who know how to install linux will simply do what they've always done when buying from Dell. Now, however, they don't have to wonder if the Dell in question will have some Windows specific piece of hardware that will prevent them from installing Red Hat, Slackware etc.

      • Easy:

        1. There will be reliable market research on Linux desktop penetration. This means the start of a new startup/IPO bubble that will do much more harm than good.

        2. The most important aspects of Free software that actually drive innovation will be abandoned for hybrids like Ubuntu. These hybrids will not support the Free software components. Look at Redhat for an example of how this works. They've got sort-of-free software and lots and more and more proprietary software that goes on top of their sort-
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jomas1 ( 696853 )
          You are assuming that the Dell+Ubuntu deal will change every aspect of the GNU/FreeSoftware/Linux movement. It will probably change the way that mainstream business users see Linux but the deal won't change much else. [] has as many distros as it does because it's easy to scratch an itch with Linux and go your own way whenever you choose to do so. Most Linux/Windows/OSX users don't care about ROI or even know what it really means. Most Free Software hackers don't really care about eco
        • by Khaed ( 544779 )
          3. Free is not a business model. Mark is sinking a fortune into Ubuntu at this point and will expect to make a return on his investment at some point. After that, the Ubuntu honeymoon is over.

          Maybe having a better Linux is what he wants. The guy has given a lot of money to a lot of open source projects. People do sometimes donate money for non-shifty reasons. Perhaps he really just wants to see F/OSS succeed.

          I think Dell selling Ubuntu will make a negligible difference in distro diversity. That's just my op
    • Your rant is just saying 'PHB will ruin everything!!!' Its hysterical. Do yuo honestly think there are not the equivalants of PHB in all areas of human endeavours including OSS? Well, let me break it to you: there are. That doesnt mean the sky is falling.
    • I don't really want Dell selling Ubuntu-equipped PC's. It will be bad for distro diversity.

      How is one desktop distribution becoming more popular, especially a community-maintained distribution like Ubuntu, a bad thing? It'll make Linux more popular overall, and totally kill the "too many choices" FUD. It's not like you have to stop using whatever your favorite distro is - hell, if you buy a Dell with Ubuntu you know the hardware works with any Linux-based distro. At worst, people might start releasing prop

    • Everybody had the same objections about RH back in later 90's (just as they were starting). Yet, we see an increase in diversity, not a lessening. The more that Linux is adopted, the more diversity we will see, with a converging of features occurring over time.
  • A few points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:26PM (#19134083) Homepage
    1) Exposure to something, whether good or bad, is good. More people will, at the very least, know what Linux is now.

    2) Anyone who actually chooses to install Ubuntu over Windows will probably either have the motivation to try something new, or they'll already know what they're doing.

    3) The FOSS community should be embracing and celebrating this. This is a huge step for Ubuntu and Linux in general. The general computing public is now seeing more alternatives from the big beast in Redmond. The more they see choice, the more likely they will be to choose - either now or in the future.
  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:28PM (#19134111)
    Dell supporting Ubuntu is EXCELLENT!

    But, please, remain in contact with the mothership - Debian.

  • by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:28PM (#19134121)
    I've chosen to ween my regular free support requesters from their troublesome software, to eventually switch them to a Linux operating system all together.

    First I've convinced them to use Firefox. I've gotten inconsistent results from users. But most are pleased. Next I've been talking people into ditching whatever mail provider they currently use, their ISP or Hotmail or whatever, in exchange for gmail. The results are generally positive. The last big hurdle for "average users" is a productivity sweet to replace MS Office (which I've found is rarely licensed anyway). works GREAT for about 99.99% of their uses and that last tiny bit can be done some other way. I've also personally had good results from Google's online stuff. But I haven't actually set anyone up using either of these solutions yet.

    The last thing to do is install a free OS and let them keep using their existing apps and services. Personally I think that Google's solutions, Firefox, and Open Office are the best tool for converting troublesome 'computer dependents' to Linux, and eliminating the vast majority of our problems. The best part is, you can get them using all these options before you take Windows away from them.
  • 7 years old (Score:2, Interesting)

    by icepick72 ( 834363 )
    Unlike Windows, it didn't always expect to be rebooted after installing new software.

    Unlike Windows, even Windows does not always expect to be rebooted after installing new software. Oh, he's using 7 year old software from Microsoft, forgot about that. Would be nice to note that statement is a very weak comparison in 2007/XP/Vista.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Done Windows update recently?

      Nearly every time a Windows update completes I am required to restart. In fact, if I -don't- restart I'm presented with a pop up every 5 minutes reminding me that I need to restart.

      If you just want to look at software and not OS updates, typically any software that installs/updates a driver or registry entry requires a restart upon completion.

      Doing a new windows install from fresh to fully patched and all software/drivers installed requires me to restart 3-5 times. Doin
      • Re:7 years old (Score:4, Informative)

        by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @03:35PM (#19135353) Homepage
        Turn the pop-up off. If you shut down affected services before installing the update, you don't need a restart anyway.

        gpedit.msc -> Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Update

        Set "Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations" to disabled.
        • Re:7 years old (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <knuckles@danti a n .org> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @04:17PM (#19136029)
          Turn the pop-up off. (...)
          gpedit.msc -> Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Update
          Set "Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations" to disabled.

          Judging by the standards that are usually applied to linux distros I conclude that Windows is not ready for the desktop.
  • Compu-elitism? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by First Person ( 51018 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:30PM (#19134149)

    Part of the attraction of Linux has been that the user community consists of a select group of highly informed individuals. A few years back, only those "in the know" had heard of the OS at all. Even now, it primarily appeals to those comfortable with OS installs and compiles from the command line. The Dell support for Ubuntu lowers the bar considerably, democratizing access even -- dare I say it -- going so far as to turn AOL users into Linux users. This is indeed a frightening possibility to many, but I am convinced that Dell's support is a good thing and a goal that many Microsoft bashers have advocated but never actually expected to come to pass.

    So now we must move on to the next battlefields wherein the truly geeky may differentiate themselves from the huddled masses yearning to break free of their (Redmond wrought) chains. Certainly some will fight bitter battles over which distribution is best. Others might even start using BSD, much to the Netcraft-troll's dismay. Some might even quit whining and start writing some code.

    Okay, I admit that last possibility is far fetched, but one can idealistically dream.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by chromozone ( 847904 )
      I just put Ubuntu on a 4 old machine. I expected issues, but within an hour I had OS installed and was surfing the web with Firefox. I even got Adobe Flash installed using a method I had never seen. In the months prior to install - when I read up on Linx - I thought a big problem was the way many of the Linux cognocenti would keep saying Linux was "easy" but then described things in a way that seemed was almost impssible to understand.
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:31PM (#19134161)
    This is funny. Dell has only recently decided to acknowledge Linux (technically for the second time), and people already found something to worry about! After years and years of moaning and whining that Dell sells Linux, it's suddenly a possibility that Dell may be bad for Ubuntu.

    I have a little folk tale for this situation, coming from Bulgaria where I'm natively from.

    Peter was a very poor villager. He was saving some money to buy eggs and grow chickens with which to feed his family. One day he took the money, went to the market and bought the eggs, then headed to home.

    On the way, he started thinking "nice, nice, nice, I have 4 fertile eggs, from those eggs I'll grow 4 chicken. Those chickens will give eggs, and they'll grow into chickens too. I'll soon have hundreds of chickens, and I'll buy a farm house to keep them in. Those hundreds of chickens will give me hundreds of eggs, which I'll sell, and I'll buy four cows. Those cows will have many calves, and each of them will grow into a cow and all those cows will give me lots of milk. I'll be rich, and buy a second farm for my cows and calves. I'll buy a house in the city, and meet with the mayor and all important people. People will recognize me on the street and say, hello Peter! That'll be great!"

    And while he was thinking about all those things, he tripped in a stone and broke the eggs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:35PM (#19134229)
    We've all heard the joke about how cars would behave if made by Microsoft, but how about if they were made by the Open Source Movement?

    1. The car would come in a kit, and would have to be assembled by hand.

    2. The instructions for assembling it would be free, but so poorly written you'd have to hire specialists, who would in the end cost more than a Microsoft car

    3. The gearstick would be designed by EMACS fans. It would be powerful, and feature rich, but changing gear would be an 18 step process designed for a driver with 4 hands.

    4. If the passenger wanted to read a map, he'd have to enter the driver's seat in order to get permission.

    5. The steering wheel would be gone. In its place, an "innovative" interface designed by the Blender and Gimp teams, consisting of 2 dead fish and a broken plastic spatula.

    6. Richard Stallman would insist the vehicles be described as GNU/Cars.

    7. It would be broken into as frequently as Microsoft cars, despite it's much touted security claims. Joe Sixpack couldn't be bothered to lock the door on his MS car, and he can't be bothered to lock it on his GNU/Car.

    8. In car entertainment would consist entirely of items cloned from Microsoft.

    9. Your grandmother wouldn't be able to drive it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) *
      And the setup procedure, if it was anything like mine, would go like this:

      "Okay, I'm ready to assemble the car in my garage. Do I need the garage door opener?"
      "Nah, not really necessary."
      Then when I'm about done putting it together, a message would say "closing the garage door is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED". I'd close the garage door.
      Then the car would fail to start. Oh crap. Well, I'll go inside my home and get my computer and ask for help.
      Wait, the door's locked. HOW CAN THE DOOR TO MY HOME BE LOCKED? "Linux
  • Because they're stripping out things like Wine. Yes, yes, I know the arguments about compatibility layers. The problem is that if you think they're not necessary, you haven't worked with people who are wedded to what they know. That happens to be most of the people who buy computers and don't modify them on their own.

    Realistically, what Dell needs to offer is a copy of VMWare Player and a copy of Windows XP with the VMWare tools installed so that people can drag and drop their files between the two as they
  • Long Term Support. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:40PM (#19134319)
    This is something I hadn't thought about before, but I wonder if Ubuntu is going to work with Dell to make what ever version they ship with be a LTS (long term support) release, or if Dell is just going to ship with the newest version of Ubuntu all the time? The last LTS release was Dapper Drake (6.06) and last I've heard the next release, Gutsy Gibbon, was not going to be a LTS release.
  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:44PM (#19134399)
    I'm a ninja?
  • $ sudo gnome-cups-manager
    $ sudo make cups # Ubuntu has a bug in gnome-cups-manager
  • Microsoft doesn't seem to complain about bloatware, although it no doubt exaggerates the perception of Windows slowness and instability. Being bundled by a leading PC vendor will certainly put pressure on Ubuntu and any flaws inherent in the distro or introduced by Dell will receive much closer scrutiny. Its features will be compared head to head with Vista and MacOSX and I am sure in many cases will be found lacking. But the bottom line is, this is an unprecedented chance for desktop Linux to move into mai
  • by agent0range_ ( 472103 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @03:11PM (#19134923)
    Why would dell's plan to ship Ubuntu be bad? I don't think a lot of retards are going to be wondering "where's internet explorer" because said retards will just get Vista, the retard operating system of choice. The people that are going to be picking Linux as their OS either already use it or are mentally capable of switching. My father, for instance, just switched the computers in his house to osx AND linux after getting fed up with Vista (and not wanting to go back to XP). He has had no problem with either OS, and he only ever calls me up for help when he has some esoteric question about how Linux works.

    Dell may even be able to make the situation better for the Ubuntu (and general linux) community by increasing the user base and potentially helping with drivers, funding, etc. After all, they have their precious reputation at stake and it is in their best interest to see Ubuntu succeed and improve upon itself, if only to make their own customers happy.
  • mentioned areas:
    • pricing
      There is no pricing, you can buy support, but you dont have to. If there are more vendors to sell it, you have compitition, which is good.
    • support
      Driver support will increase as Dell would be interested to have all hardware supported. As they limited the PCs they deliver Ubuntu with, this must not be the case. But new technology/vendors might be selected by Dell for good linux support.
    • logistics
      There might be a higher load on mirros, but as Dell is interested in having good per
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @04:16PM (#19135995) Homepage Journal
    ... Dell verifys the hardware to be compatable with the release of ubuntu that it ships with it's hardware.

    Considering Ubuntu itself has a paid line of support....

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.